Dolly Alderton on her revelation in All I Know About Love
“Naturally, people become more private as they get older,” she says. “I share very little about my life and feel much happier and safer doing this. With my 33-year-old head, it’s mortifying, the idea of sharing so many personal relationships. I had such a baptism of fire with this book. I really didn’t expect to sell so many copies, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been so revealing.
“But if I could come back as the Ghost of Christmas Future and say to my old self, ‘Look, if you share all of this, you’re going to connect with a lot of people and sell a lot of books, and you,’ I’m going to semi -fictionalise and put it on the BBC, but it’s also super embarrassing and it will affect your love life and mean you feel overexposed’, I know what my old self would say, ”My dream has come true!’ So that’s what I always try to remember, I don’t feel any shame for that younger me.
Still keeping a meticulous diary and growing up in north-west London, Alderton started a blog aged 15, which she now calls “the most embarrassing thing a human being has ever written”. From there, she gained a solid following on Twitter, as well as a newsletter, podcast and dating column in The Sunday Times.
His book was a huge success, selling millions of dollars and winning awards including Waterstones Paperback of the Year. “I was an exhibitionist,” she says now. “I wanted to be in the grand canon of memoirists like Nora Ephron or Dorothy Parker. I wanted to be a woman who was documenting her real life, shaping it into a story, and sharing it with people. It didn’t feel like a huge sacrifice at all. for me at the time.
She was approached by TV production company Working Title after writing just three chapters of the memoir, as the company’s co-chairman Eric Fellner was a fan of her Sunday Times column. He had previously turned Helen Fielding’s Diary of Bridget Jones into three blockbuster films and has spent the past three years working with Alderton and the BBC to develop a scripted version of his book.
“It’s a trip that Eric has taken before with Helen,” says Alderton. “She also wrote columns, so he was interested in new young female voices. Helen had a huge influence on me. I took his book from my mother’s shelves. I so clearly remember that cover with the woman smoking a cig and thinking it was the most incredibly glamorous thing in the world.
While the All I Know About Love book is written in the first person, the TV series was to have a firmer narrative structure, telling the story of four friends sharing a flat in London.
The series transforms Dolly into Maggie, played by Emma Appleton, and her best friend Farly into Birdy (Bel Powley). And while many stories in the series stay true to the book, there are some additions to the narrative as well.
The conversion was a challenge for Alderton, whose only television experience was working as a story producer for reality show Made in Chelsea between 2011 and 2013. “A lot of the details in the book have changed, especially about men, because I didn’t want to sue you! But everything about my friends is word for word and the events in the book happened in my real life,” he explains. she.
“In the TV version there are factual details and settings that come straight from the book and are taken directly from my experience. Yes, I lived in a house in Camden that looked a lot like this house. Like Maggie, I I was working in structured reality TV. I dated horrible musicians. But then I expanded the world to invite many other stories and other characters and moments of comedy and moments of drama.
One of the key elements of the TV series’ narrative is Maggie’s jealousy when the ingenuous Birdy finds love and doesn’t have as much time for her best friend. It’s a story very much based on the actual friendship of Dolly and Farly. One has to wonder what Farly and his other friends think of Dolly’s sometimes painful honesty about their lives, especially as a primetime BBC show will bring these stories to a whole new audience. .
“I think Farly probably feels intimidated by that,” Alderton admits. “She was very good at not telling me anything. She’s incredibly generous with what she lets me take and rework as a story. I am so lucky that they all feel very happy that these friendships have been celebrated, dramatized and immortalized. What an amazing thing for all of us to one day show our grandchildren – the magic of our friendships is preserved.
As a millennial, Alderton was among the first generation who took to the internet to talk about their insecurities, sex life, anxieties, drug use and heartbreak. Now Alderton has deleted her previous blogs and is much more tight-lipped about her personal life – she says recent boyfriends have been paranoid about being featured in her writing, and will only dare that she’s now in a relationship but that it is “the first days”.
The experience of becoming so famous for her private life led her to examine the confessional styles of her generation in relation to younger writers. “I think now I understand how much my generation has been defined by sharing,” she says. “We were the pioneers of the Internet.
“For a teenager who feels misunderstood, and that’s most teenagers, imagine being introduced to this place where you can go and completely reinvent yourself. You can take photos with a filter, the most flattering photos you’ve ever seen. You can put on crazy makeup and look like a different person. How exciting is that? I think we have to forgive ourselves for that.
“Gen Z is a lot more abstract in the way they share things online and I feel like they’ve learned from my generation’s mistakes: what it’s like to very seriously document every part of who you are. are like a way to get people to like you, and how vulnerable it can make you or how much you might regret it once you hit your mid-thirties.
“Most healthy millennials have shut everything down by now – deleted Twitter, opted out of Facebook and very rarely post on Instagram. We took a trip, and it was interesting.
Not that Alderton is anti-internet. She still believes it’s a great place to connect with people, exhibit work, discover the work of others – and a useful arena for making political change. But, she adds, “it’s also incredibly dangerous. It can sound very scary. Particularly as a woman, this can feel very polarized and can really unsettle a person’s sense of self.
“So I think it will be like any other delicious thing in life, like drinking or smoking, or having sex, or driving, and it will be taught safely in schools and monitored and organized in the same way. way than all these other things.
“I think we’re going to look back and say, God, it was funny that there was that time when humans just had free rein on the internet, and kids didn’t learn about it. I think it’s a wonderful thing for the world, and we just have to figure out how to use it safely.
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Instead of writing about her own life so directly in the future, Alderton now plans to continue writing fiction – and she has already published a novel, Ghosts. The next one will be about heartbreak, but after that, she’s planning something different: inspired, perhaps, by her new relationship?
“I will always write about relationships and I can write about my own life. But it will be in fiction, where I can hide in plain sight. And I really want to do a romantic comedy,” she adds. “I’ve never written a happy ending. I have this real streak of hetero-pessimism, which basically means feeling like zero around sexuality, so I’d like to write a love story with an ending. warm.
“When Nora Ephron did Julie & Julia, she said it was important to her to show a man in a romantic story who was fully celebratory and supportive, and in awe of the woman he loved. It was important to reminding women that this man exists, because he exists. I know this man exists, it just takes a little time to find him.
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